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     Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]

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    Kaleah Page
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    PostSubject: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Fri Dec 30, 2016 10:45 pm

    [OOC: Sorry this starter is so rushed; I only had half an hour before I had to leave, and I wrote it as quickly as I could. Razz]

    This was the class she would've been dreading if not for the fact she was partnering with someone she considered a friend. Brandon was a Prince, yes, but after sneaking out of her dorm multiple times at midnight to meet him by a lake for midnight swims, she was more than comfortable around him, and knew that a date would be no different than the times they (secretly, while breaking the rules) already hung out.

    The rules had been set out by the teachers in the hour class before the date, and Kaleah had to memorise and pass a test before she (or any other of the girls) was allowed to participate in the dual class.

    1) The female is not allowed to choose. As with the way fairytales go, the females will be picked.

    This rule irked her, but she wasn't particularly worried, knowing that Brandon would pick her; they'd discussed this much. What annoyed her was the way they were to line up - like livestock - and wait for their Prince to hand them the rose, signalling that they were chosen. At least she liked roses.

    2) There will be a chaperone at all times.

    This made sense. It would've been quite the scandal if two people of the opposite gender went on a date (even if fake) without someone watching over them. It had been decided that either a teacher or one of the animal companions of said teachers would accompany them. That meant Kaleah would have to be on her best behaviour, and that she wouldn't be able to joke around with Brandon as she normally would.

    3) No indecent behaviour.

    Again, this was obvious, and predictable, and Kaleah had no qualms following this - except for the fact that what was considered 'indecent' included her normal behaviour. Two hours without sarcasm, she told herself. I can do it, for the grade, and for Brandon. I wouldn't want him to fail because of me.

    And then, as soon as their test was over, they were ushered out of the class and to their dorms, given exactly half an hour to get ready. She settled for a simple black polka dot dress, light makeup, and nothing more. She was ready in fifteen minutes and spent the rest of the time trying to figure out how to convince Annabelle that she had no idea Brandon would choose her without actually lying.

    Standing in the dining room, trying her best to not look annoyed, Kaleah waited with the rest of the girls - that is, Princesses - for the Princes to arrive. Her hands were placed neatly in front of her, overlapping, and she smiled as prettily as she could.

    Two hours.

    That was all she had to get through. Hopefully, Brandon would make it that much more bearable. A whisper from the girls and a stare from the teacher in charge (resulting in a sudden quiet) informed her that the Princes were arriving, and she straightened even more, reminding herself constantly to smile and not say anything snarky, as much as she wanted to and as much as she knew Brandon would just find it funny.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    Brandon Everett
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:04 am

    It was the class Brandon had been looking forward to. Courtship 101. With any other woman, it would have been torture, or close to torture. With any other woman, he’d have to behave perfectly. Of course, since he’d grown up in the palace his whole life, behaving perfectly was something he could do without much effort. But it was something that wasn’t fun to do and it was something he didn’t particularly enjoy doing. After all, where was the fun in behaving perfectly?

    He’d been relieved, excited even, when his late night escapades with Kaleah gave him an opportunity to arrange to partner with Kaleah. Now, that would be a fun courtship. As he looked himself over in the mirror, his mind wandered to the many nights he’d met her at the lake. When it was just the both of them, he could be himself instead of the perfect Prince everyone expected him to be. He remembered her smile, the light in her eyes, and the way her lips would curve in a smirk whenever she teased him. Never had he seen a woman with such life and spunk, save for his mother.

    Unfortunately for the both of them, there had to be a chaperone to the date. It was understandable, of course, but Brandon couldn’t help but wish that they didn’t need to have one. He could’ve teased her to his heart’s content, be flirty, witty, snarky, and all of that fun stuff. But with a chaperone along, he’d have to behave properly. Ugh. At least he had the freedom to plan the date. He had talked with the other Princes and most of them had planned to dine in a high class restaurant. He had found that a little too boring and not suitable for either Kaleah or himself. Sure, he didn’t mind a restaurant, but since they were already forced to be on good behaviour, why not have the date in a less formal, more free setting? Hopefully, everything would go as planned and Kaleah would enjoy herself. He wanted her to.

    He ran a hand through his hair, making it stick up a little, before turning a critiquing eye to his suit. Deciding it was too predictable and similar to the other Princes – because all of them were wearing suits – he took off the tie and shirt, replacing it with a dark red t-shirt and throwing the suit jacket over it. It wasn’t too warm out so he should be fine. He surveyed his final outfit and nodded his head in satisfaction.

    The teacher lined up all thirty Princes outside the dining room, waiting for silence before opening the doors and letting them file in. Brandon was fourth in line, a relaxed smile on his face as he walked into the room. They lined up opposite the girls and bowed in unison. It wasn’t hard to spot Kaleah. She was in the correct form and posture, a demure and pretty smile on her lips, as expected of all Princesses, and yet somehow, it didn’t seem to fit her. Brandon would have preferred the smile that was her, not this cookie cutter one all the ladies wore.

    Since he was one of the more prestigious Princes, Brandon was given the privilege of being the first to choose his Princess. Instead of heading straight for Kaleah, he let his eyes roam over the girls, noting that Annabelle was batting her eyelashes a thousand miles an hour at him. Most of them had an expectant and hopeful look in their eyes, which faded as he passed over them. Finally, his eyes landed on Kaleah, looking adorable and spunky in her polka dot dress. He took a firm step forward, a mischievous light in his eyes though his smile remained polite.

    Brandon bowed deeply in front of her. “Miss Page, will you do me the honour of joining me for a picnic brunch by the lake?”
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:00 am

    As the row of Princes walked in, Kaleah automatically found herself scanning the row for the male who would be her date, hoping that he hadn't decided to be all proper and formal; yes, it was expected of them, and yes she knew he had to be somewhat decently dressed, but if he was in a suit and tie and expensive shoes, she'd know that the date was going to be one that was extremely dull. So, when she saw him tieless and in a red shirt, she had to hide an inward smirk. Things weren't going to be that bad.

    As the Princes bowed, Kaleah joined the other Princesses in a curtsey. There would be plenty of that to come, as each were expected to repeat the gesture once chosen, as well as during the date if and when the Prince pulled out chairs for them, complimented them, and pretty much everything else in the book.

    She hadn't expected him to be forthcoming - it would've been too obvious that they'd been communicating outside had he done so - and so she waited, patiently, not once glancing towards the male as he looked over each person. For a brief moment, she was tempted to turn and watch Annabelle's face as Brandon passed over her, but held her gaze straight, allowing them to glaze over as though not expecting to be chosen.

    Only when he stopped directly in front of her did she pretend to blink herself out of a trance and widen her smile slightly in recognition of his presence. She could see the glint in his eyes, speaking of shared secrets and mischief, as she so often caught glimpses of when both in the moonlight and the clearing where he taught her how to use a sword.

    She allowed a hint of surprise to flicker across her expression. He's choosing me? she tried to make her minute raise of eyebrows mean. Anyone who saw it would, hopefully, think that was genuinely shocked by his decision. She said nothing, waiting for him to make the first move as was expected, and allowed her smile to grow by a fraction of an inch as he spoke.

    Under her breath, so quietly only those very near - that is, Brandon - could hear, she murmured, "If I said no?" careful not to part her lips too much or make it obvious that she was speaking. Outwardly, she let her smile stay a smile although she was tempted to smirk, and curtsied as was expected.

    "I would love to, Master Fitzherbert," she replied. "A picnic sounds lovely." Very slightly, she put emphasis on the activity, trying to tell him that she appreciated the fact it was something outdoors and more chill without outright saying it. "I hear the lake is beautiful," she added, a light teasing to her tone. To anyone else, it would appear as flirting - which she was expected and supposed to do. To Brandon, it would be the obvious sly reference to their moonlight adventures.

    She waited for him to offer her his arm, accepting it with a smile and another curtsey, and allowed him to lead her out. Behind her, a day owl followed, and she had to hide a smirk. Quietly, before the owl could catch up, she murmured, "Owls have sharp hearing but don't get sarcasm. Be careful."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Mon Jan 23, 2017 5:07 am

    Brandon never thought that picking out one woman in a whole line of women could be so amusing. He had been needlessly cruel by making eye contact with every girl, holding their gaze just long enough for them to hope that he was choosing them, before moving on. He couldn't help it, they were all so starry eyed. Well, all except for one who couldn't care less. He thought he heard a collective groan when he walked up to Kaleah, and he definitely heard a gasp of indignation that could only have come from Annabelle.

    He caught Kaleah's slight raise of her eyebrow, being so close to her and did his best to bite back a grin from spreading across his lips. She was a talented actress and could have starred in many a blockbuster. Then she spoke and he couldn't not hold back his smile from growing wider. "I'd just have to throw you over my shoulder and take you there myself," he responded, taking care to ensure that no one would be the wiser that they were having this conversation if they were watching closely. He'd had practice talking under his breath, and though he wouldn't claim to be the best at it, he knew some tips and tricks.

    "Thank you, Miss Page," he replied, picking up the stress she'd put on the word. He congratulated himself on his very wise choice. "Yes, it is very lovely indeed. I cannot wait until you see it," he continued, matching her tone and working to keep his smile at an appropriate wattage. "It is equally beautiful at night when the moon's reflection dances on the surface on the water." (Who knew he could be that poetic?)

    Not wanting to drag on the conversation too long, since that wasn't polite to do in front of every one else, he offered her his arm and led her out of the room. He'd had contact with her before while teaching her how to use a sword but having her hand in his elbow felt completely different. To his surprise, Brandon found that he liked it there. He had no urge to pry it away, like he did whenever Annabelle imposed herself on him. In fact, he welcomed it.

    Brandon nodded slightly at her words to show that he'd acknowledge what she'd said. "I'll keep that in mind," he said. Before he could say anything else, the owl caught up so he switched to proper Prince mode. "I hope you like home-made sandwiches and store bought tea," he said as he took the picnic basket from a footman and led her out of the building, down the footpath that led to the lake. He'd considered using horses but the distance was too short to warrant commissioning a stable hand to groom and tack two horses.

    "Isn't it nice to be outside?" he began, feeling the irritation creep in at having to be on his best behaviour.

    It was a pleasant walk and Brandon was grateful for the fine weather. The sun was out, but it was cool enough that the exercise didn't make him sweat. A gentle breeze occasionally blew away the humidity and all Brandon wanted to do was break into a run and challenge Kaleah to a race. But of course, he couldn't.

    "Here we are, Miss Page," Brandon said once they reached the lake, the sun's rays glistening off the surface and tempting him to dive right in. "Would you like to pick a spot?" he asked, hoping that she'd choose their usual place, a grassy spot on the south side of the lake with a few rocks that were formed in such a way that allowed them to lean back if they wanted to.
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:54 am

    Kaleah hid a laugh, mouth twitching upwards in a smirk instead. “I have half a mind to allow that, just for the look on their faces,” she murmured. This was going to be fun, if only they could act as themselves - but they weren't, and she knew that.

    She smiled at him as he took her hand, allowing him to lead her. It was different than all the other times they touched, this one being more intimate, more personal, and it was something she wasn't quite sure she wanted. He was nice, yes. A friend, definitely. But if the way he was holding her hand was any indication of how a couple was meant to behave, it was another reason she didn't want that - not yet, anyway, and probably never.

    But for the sake of the grade, she continued to smile, and nodded at his words. “I can only imagine,” she said. “It sounds beautiful indeed, although I would never have reason to venture out there at night. Why, anything could be out there, and there is a curfew I obey.” This was utter bullcrap, and both of them knew it. Still, it was fun pretending and putting double meanings behind her sentences.

    “I'm sure,” she replied, noting the bird’s arrival, and falling silent.

    “Homemade sandwiches are among my favourite things in the world,” she answered. “My, I didn't know you could cook! How impressive.”

    Seeing him acting so formal was… interesting. It was quite a different setting, and for a moment she was taken aback, uncertain how to behave around him. This was different than all the previous times, when it was just them and fun. This was serious, for a grade, and it wasn't like she could relax or anything.

    “It's lovely,” she replied, following his lead. “How nice to be out here like this.” She stressed the last two words, indicating the exact opposite. “I feel so free. Don't you?”

    For a moment there, Kaleah could just picture him inviting her to a race. It wasn't decent behaviour, and so she didn't expect him to; he didn't, proving her right. The owl was too close to murmur anything, and she pondered for a few moments how to phrase what she wanted to say. Finally, she said, “I’d be first in any competition, so I'm glad you chose me.” Hoping that he would understand her double meaning, she flashed him a smile. It wasn't improper of her to say, since she was expected to flirt and make herself out to be great, so the owl would be none the wiser.

    They arrived at the familiar place, and at the invitation she pretended to look around, making soft thinking noises as she did. Of course, she new exactly where both her and Brandon would want it to be - their usual spot - but if she made it obvious she knew where to go, there would be questions asked. Finally, she allowed her eyes to linger on a grassy spot nearby. “How about that, my Prince? It looks comfortable,” she asked, making sure to use flirtatious terms. It was, once again, expected of her.

    Not waiting, she moved towards it, pushing him forward slightly as she did so it would seem as though he was leading.[/i]

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Fri Jan 27, 2017 10:18 pm

    "And I have half a mind to dare you to allow it," Brandon replied, managing to sneak in the tiniest of winks. She was probably one to take up any dare of his but this whole courtship class weighed quite heavily in their grads and Brandon could not afford to fail at all.

    Brandon fought the grin that threatened to break out at her words. She was absolutely sly and he loved it. "Yes, absolutely no reason to go galumphing through the night. And of course you obey curfew, just as you obey all the rest of the rules. I would never dare imply that you are one who breaks rules. You are a Princess after all, a very proper one too," Brandon quipped, getting a grip on his facial muscles and keeping them serious.

    "I do try my best to please a Lady," he responded, feeling panicked and worried for a second. What happened if his sandwiches didn't turn out the way he hoped they would? Did add enough sauce to the sandwhich? What if he'd added too much sauce and it turned out to be a mess? Did he make enough sandwiches? He brushed the worries aside; they would deal with whatever happened with laughter and sarcasm, as they always did.

    Brandon nodded at her words, picking up the meaning behind the stress she'd put on those two words. Like this: having to behave properly, be chaperoned by an owl who watched and listened to everything they did and said so they could be graded. "Oh yes, definitely free, indeed. Imagine, perfect weather, beautiful scenery, hundreds of acres of nature, and all of that coupled with a Princess to court. How can one not feel free?"

    Her words made him glance at her and raise an eyebrow - politely, of course - though there was no denying the mischief in his eyes, which he hoped the owl could not see since it was behind them. "Any competition, Miss Page?" Brandon inquired, assuming a small-talk tone but sure that Kaleah could detect the underlying challenge.

    "And of course I chose you; you're one of the most well-behaved and well-trained Princess. You observe all the rules, you conduct yourself with the utmost propriety, and you have stunning fashion sense," Brandon replied, hoping she'd detect his sarcasm.

    I couldn't imagine choosing anyone else he thought to himself.

    "Absolutely perfect, my beautiful Princess," Brandon said with a winning smile, responding to her flirting. He set down the basket - letting her hand drop from his elbow - and took out the navy blue cloth, laying down on the ground. Using a red and white chequered blanket was just too cheesy and ordinary for his taste.

    He took out the sandwiches he'd packed, as well as the flask of tea. For dessert, he'd made a simple sponge cake, but that would come out later. "I made chicken salad, turkey ham, and sliced beef sandwiches," he said. "Take your pick, gorgeous." Brandon could actually feel himself cringing at the term of endearment he'd used. He could think of so many more creative names to call her but using those names might cause the owl to be suspicious and Brandon could not have that happening.
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:31 am

    Pausing very slightly, she took a controlled breath, trying to rationalise. Then, very softly, she said, "Please don't, for if you do, I shall!" Still, she caught his wink and trusted that he knew her well enough to understand that she didn't back down from dares.

    Biting as hard as she could against her cheeks to stop a smile or a laugh, she nodded but said nothing for a few moments. Instead, very casually and subtly, she dug her nails into his arm, making it seem as though she was merely adjusting her grip so that her actions were hidden from sight. When she was sure she wasn't going to laugh, she murmured, "If you make me laugh out of turn, Brandon, I swear to all the gods out there I will hurt you."

    Then, louder, she said, "Oh, of course my Prince. I am very well behaved, just as a Princess should be. And you, I am sure, are equally well-behaved. Tell me, how do you know the lake is beautiful at night if you obey curfew - as I am certain you do! I'm curious to know where you hear such wonderful information, for if it is a book I would love to read it." Her tone was innocent, but there was a glint in her eyes that would tell him - and only him, for nobody else knew this side of her - that she was trying to one-up him.

    "And this Lady is very well pleased indeed," she replied, wanting nothing more than to shoot herself for speaking like that. It was so pompous, so arrogant, so... urg. She hid another sigh and smiled instead.

    She nodded at his words but said nothing than a simple, "I agree wholeheartedly." What else was there to say? Both of them knew they hated being there like this, their usually sacred spot of refuge now a classroom setting. The owl hovered behind them, far enough to give them the illusion of privacy, yet close enough to hear and observe everything the said or did. Still, the challenge of it all was somewhat thrilling; finding ways to structure sentences so as to convey a hidden meaning to Brandon would be a fun game - although only for a short time. It would get tedious and boring if it happened too often, as did all games.

    Winding a strand of her hair around and around her finger - something she observed the other Princess' do while flirting and hated having to do herself - she gave an innocent smile. "Well, obviously not the manly-male things, like shooting or running," she answered, hating herself for saying it. "But yes, anything." Again she put emphasis on the last two words, hoping to indicate that this was her true answer.

    She let out a laugh at his reply, although made it look like a contemptuous one. "Oh I'm so glad you've heard of my reputation; I hate to brag, but it's all true."

    They settled down, and while she wanted to help him, she didn't. It 'wasn't her job', apparently, and as foolish as that sounded she had to let go of her pride and let him - just this once. Kaleah listened to his speech about what he prepared and smiled. It all sounded so good, and she told him as much, taking only a single piece of the chicken salad one. She was expected to eat like a mouse, and in order to prepare for this she'd asked her birds to sneak her some other food. Besides, after this Brandon and her would probably meet again - at this exact location - to discuss how the day went, and laugh about it.

    "These are delicious!" she told him, nibbling at the edge of her sandwich, wanting nothing more than to bite it in half as she normally would.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Mon Jan 30, 2017 7:55 pm

    He flashed her the quickest of cheeky grins. He'd been correct in his prediction that she would take him up on the dare. The more rule bending part of him wanted to dare her, just to have some fun, but he was once again reminded of his grades. And of hers. With no small amount of self-control, he restrained himself from doing so. Oh well, he could always throw her over his shoulder some other time. The thought made him feel much better.

    He felt her grip on his arm tighten and fought back a smile. "Then I shall endeavour to make you laugh out of turn," he said. The gods know all this is stuffy enough without having some fun. "Is that a threat, my dear?" he murmured under his breath.

    At her words, he couldn't resist his smile widening a bit. He knew exactly what she was trying to do. Unfortunately for her, it wouldn't work. Not this time. "Why, I use my imagination, my dear," he responded, not missing a beat. "In my imagination, I am taking a romantic walk by the lake in the moonlight, with a stunning beauty on my arm. We sit and gaze at the stars, pointing out the falling ones and making a wish upon them to live happily ever after!" There was no denying the sarcasm and underlying mockery in his tone.

    "Of course, never in my imagination would I ever be sword fighting with said stunning beauty in the moonlight. That is simply outrageous," he added, stressing those three words and hoping Kaleah would pick up the meaning behind them. It didn't happen in his imagination. It happened in real life.

    "It warms my heart to hear that, my dear," Brandon replied, hoping to end this particular line of conversation. If he didn't, he would run out of polite words to say. As it is, he was pulling lines from Conversational Etiquette When Talking to A Princess: A Hundred Polite Replies Guaranteed to Melt A Lady's Heart. How the words polite and melt a lady's heart could exist in the same sentence baffled Brandon though.

    Seeing Kaleah twirl her hair around her finger was too much for Brandon. He tried to subdue the laugh that bubbled up but failed miserably, instead sounding like he was choking to death. He turned it into a cough, turning his head away from view and politely coughing until he could control his mirth. When he felt he was sufficiently under control, he turned back to her, the polite smile on his lips again. "Forgive me, my dear. I had something stuck in my throat," he apologised as was customary.


    "I see," he responded, continuing the line of their conversation before his coughing fit. "Of course, not the manly-male things." As he spoke, his brain whirled to find a challenge in which she would clearly lose. Archery? Equestrian sports? Swimming? Oh, dueling! I'll challenge her to a duel. Hah! Let's see if she can beat me in that. Or perhaps something completely out of her world? A dancing competition? Or etiquette at a royal dinner table?

    "Yes, my dear. You hold a most impressive reputation," Brandon said, his voice full of fake admiration.

    Brandon couldn't help but grin at the sight of Kaleah eating the proper way. It was a funny and strange at the same time. He poured out a cup of tea for the both of them then started on his beef sandwich, taking a cautious bite and critiquing his handiwork. It wasn't that bad though it could use more seasoning. "I'm glad you enjoy it, sweetheart," he said after swallowing. At least with both of them busy eating and the rule of not speaking with one's mouth full, they didn't have to keep up the polite talk, only making generic comments where suitable.

    Once she was done with her food - which took way longer than he liked, in his opinion, he cleared up the rubbish, stuffing them back into the basket. "I have a surprise for you, darling," he said, taking out the cake he'd made and the knife he'd brought along. He set the former down on the ground and put the knife to it, cutting out a slice for Kaleah and putting it on a plate before serving himself. The outside of the cake didn't look bad but even Brandon could tell that there was something wrong with the inside. He didn't know what it was but it didn't look like the sponge cakes Cook made back home.

    Tentatively, he took a bite and had to keep himself from spitting it out. It was dry, salty, and had a strange taste to it. It took him a moment but he forced it down his throat, realising too late that he'd used salt instead of sugar. He'd probably used the wrong kind of flour too. Dang it. He'd been hoping to impress Kaleah with his baking skills but it just backfired.

    They could both just stop eating and use the excuse that they were full, but Brandon felt he owed her an apology. A sincere one. "I'm really sorry, Kaleah," he said, putting down his plate. "It seems I'm not as good a baker as I'd like to be."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:32 am

    "And I shall endeavour to make you rather sorry should you succeed," she replied at once, flashing him a polite smile that would be read as innocent and flirty by anyone watching. "And yes, my dear. It was a threat; how very astute of you to realise. I suppose you aren't quite as daft as you appear."

    Inwardly, she raised her eyebrow at his words; outwardly, Kaleah smiled widely. "What a fantastic imagination you possess, my Prince," she replied. "I fear I shall never live up to the expectations of this mysterious woman you have concocted; do not fret, however. I shall make it my sole ambition this afternoon to attempt to please your Majesty." Saying this made her want to gag - living to please someone else, especially a male? That was preposterous and ridiculous and just all-rounded sexist - but she bit back anything other than a flirtatious smile.

    His next set of words made her want to giggle, and she allowed that through. No point hiding everything. Besides, she knew a good way to hide her laugh, and said, "You are so funny, my Prince; how absurd to even suggest that a Princess would so much as touch one of those horrid pointy things!" She let out a laugh again, trusting that he would understand that she was doing so at the irony of what she said and not the actual words.

    Heaven knew their hours of sword practice in the moonlight left them both sore and exhausted the next day - and they would have it no other way.

    "I'm sorely pleased, my darling; I do try," she replied. All these polite words and phrases were as unnatural as purple hair, and although both were nice in their own way, the latter was the only thing she'd ever willingly do.

    When he laughed, she had to bite the inside of her lip to stop herself from joining in and, once again, allowed her nails to sink into his hand - both as a warning to him and as a way to help him calm down. She'd had lots of practise hiding laughter, what with her brothers making it a competition to make her laugh at the most inappropriate times (once, one of them whispered a rude phrase to her halfway during a hall meeting and she snorted so loudly the speaker stopped to ask why a pig was in the room) but she found she was being put to the test with Brandon.

    The meal went by without much talking, something she didn't mind; it meant less fake flirting and talking. The entire time, the owl hovered nearby, not saying anything, and Kaleah could've sworn she physically felt the eyes on her as they ate and made polite small talk here and there. It was difficult to pretend that they'd never talked before - this was, after all, supposed to be one of their first few meetings - and not allude or refer to previous topics of discussion.

    On top of that, she had to remember that she was meant to be a Princess and not know anything about hunting, or swordsmanship, or ... anything valuable, really, and it was infuriating to have to pretend to be confused when Brandon brought up something only a Prince should have knowledge about.

    As he took out the cake, Kaleah raised an inward eyebrow. Her mother used to bake occasionally, and one of her brothers had taken a part-time job at the village bakery, so she knew her way around cakes and breads and whatnot - and this did not look right. Still, she took a small forkful, the overpowering taste of salt overpowering. Managing to swallow forcefully - and thanking the heavens that Princesses were only supposed to take tiny, dainty bites - she reached for the cup of water and took a sip to help wash it down.

    The apology made her smile - genuinely and sincerely - and Kaleah shook her head. "That's quite alright, my Prince. It is, after all, the thought that counts." Pausing, an idea crept into her mind, and she only hesitated a second before adding, "If I may, my Prince, I might have a way to assist, so that the food does not go to waste."

    Not elaborating further just yet, she searched the surrounding area for a bird and - once spotting one - called gently to it mentally, asking it for a few favours. Luckily, it was a bird she'd already made friends with previously, and without much need to coerce it, it flew towards them and picked up the small handkerchief that Kaleah took from the bottom of the basket and held out.

    It flew away, and only after it disappeared from sight did Kaleah turn back to Brandon. "You know-" she started, forgetting for a moment that she was supposed to talk gracefully, and that during their time together she hadn't mentioned her family, and so dropping a name would have been a bad thing.

    Pausing she silently cussed at her slip up and corrected her tone. "I am but a simple village girl, my Prince, and I have a few siblings. One of them has work at a bakery, and he has brought back many types of baked goods for us to sample. If I may be so bold as to make a suggestion, my darling, if we added some crushed blueberries and cherries on top, it could be turned into a pastry of sorts. There is a grove nearby that grows them, and they are naturally sweet."

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:08 am

    “I’m honoured you think so highly of me, my dear,” Brandon said, and though the words sounded harmless, he knew Kaleah would hear the sarcasm in his tone.

    At her speech, Brandon raised one eyebrow, the movement so minute it wouldn’t be caught by anyone but her, if she were looking closing enough. “Thank you, darling,” Brandon replied. “That is a very…admirable ambition, indeed. Do you think you can fulfil it?”

    Brandon let himself chuckle. “I have been known for my good sense of humour.”

    He looked ruefully at the cake, frustrated at himself. He’d planned out this picnic and worked hard to make sure it went smoothly. Heaven knew that it was torturous enough to have to be on one’s best behaviour – though he was practiced at it. He had wanted to make it more bearable by dining outdoors and having things go well.

    Movement caught his eye and he saw the exchange between a bird and Kaleah. His eyebrows creased in confusion and he was just about to ask what she was doing when she spoke up. He didn’t miss her almost slip up and breathed a quiet sigh of relief as she caught herself in time, giving her a reassuring smile. He cocked his head to one side, looking thoughtfully at the disastrous dessert.

    “That could work,” he murmured. It didn’t take long for the bird to come back, toting the handkerchief in its beak. He thanked it quietly before taking the weight in his hands and opening the folds of the cloth to see the juicy berries.

    Not wanting to soil the handkerchief, he poured the berries onto a plate and used a fork to mash them up, almost like jam. Using a knife, he spread it out generously on top of the cake and cut another slice for Kaleah before serving himself.

    Lifting a tiny piece of the cake to his mouth, he took a tentative bite. It wasn’t perfect but it was edible. The tangy sweet taste of the berries helped to mask the saltiness of the cake, and the juice gave it some moisture.

    “My dear,” Brandon began after swallowing, “you have saved the day. Perhaps I shall leave the cooking and baking to the ladies next time.” He gave her a flirty wink to show that he didn’t actually mean his words. He never did like the idea of the separation of roles, that it was the woman’s duty to cook, clean, and birth children while it was the man’s duty to rule. Those things had their places, but it shouldn’t be set in stone or frowned down upon when a man decided to help with some household chores or a woman showed her brains by getting involved in political discussions.

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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:29 am

    Plastering an innocent smile on her face, Kaleah said, "I'm very good at what I do, Master Fitzherbert." There were a few ways one could interpret this, depending how much one knew about her - and she was sure that Brandon would understand that she was more or less saying I can bullshit well enough (although if he knew she didn't mind swearing, she wasn't sure; she was comfortable around him but not entirely daft as to use foul language around a real, genuine Prince).

    She almost shrugged at his compliment, managing to catch it at the last moment. Instead, she dipped her head in a sort of bow. "You give me far too much credit, my darling Prince. It was a mistake anybody could make; however, you are right. It is the duty of the Princess to cook and bake." If any of her friends heard her now, they'd tease her no end - but this was acting, and she knew that Brandon would understand she meant not a word of it.

    Silently, she ate her cake, now bearable with the sweet tang of the fruits. When the meal was over, she helped Brandon pack everything up and waited for him to offer her a hand up. There was no problem with her legs, but it was the 'right' thing to do, and while she hated it, it was what needed to be done for the grade.

    From a tiny pocket in her dress (that she had made herself by cutting a slit and stitching a small piece of leftover fabric on the inside of the material; why dresses didn't have pockets, she never understood) she withdrew a small card she'd already written. They were all supposed to have done this - a small thank you love letter - although she'd taken advantage of the privacy assurance to spruce hers up a little.




    "For you, my Prince," she said, passing it to him and glad that formalities meant he wouldn't read it in front of her. Then, together, they walked back to the classroom, where they were dismissed to their separate dorms.

    __________
    That night, way after the sun had set and the sky was illuminated only by an almost-full moon and a million stars, Kaleah sat at the edge of the lake in a pair of shorts and a loose t-shirt. Feet positioned in such a way that occasional waves would lap at it, she enjoyed the chill of the water as she waited for Brandon to arrive.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Sat Feb 18, 2017 4:23 am

    “I’m sure you are,” Brandon murmured, more to himself than to anyone else. It wasn’t said in sarcasm. On the contrary, he was rather serious about his words. In all the time he spent in her company, Brandon knew that nothing could stop Kaleah from accomplishing whatever she set her heart on. It was one of the things he admired about her – her motivation and drive to succeed. So many people were content with their lot in life, with no greater goal or desire to achieve it.

    He held back a smile at her words, knowing that she meant didn’t mean it at all. He could only imagine the pain it must have caused her to say words that went against what she believed. Besides their usual banter, they’d gone into some deeper discussions and he knew the opinion she had regarding society’s expectation of each gender. It had been a stimulating conversation and he’d admired the way she formed her opinions.

    It didn’t take long for them to finish packing up everything into the basket. He’d have to clean it out when he got back later but it wasn’t that big of a deal. He helped her up, raising one eyebrow teasingly when she made no argument. It was strange seeing her abide by all the laws of etiquette but he didn’t mind it at all.

    He took the note from her, bestowing a cheeky grin as he pocket it, already knowing it probably didn’t contain what it was supposed to contain. “Thank you, my Princess ,” he said. “I shall forever treasure this note you’ve written.” That last sentence was another line he pulled from Conversational Etiquette When Talking to A Princess: A Hundred Polite Replies Guaranteed to Melt A Lady's Heart. He only remembered it because of its cheesiness, actually grimacing when he read that line.

    The second he got the chance, he opened her note and read it, grinning the whole way through and congratulating himself for not going the route of restaurant-and-tux date. Sure, he could’ve done better with the cake, but the mess up just added to the fun of the whole thing. Kaleah wasn’t going to let him live it down. No doubt about that.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^

    Brandon made his way across the grounds, his feet making no noise as he travelled the familiar path down to the lake. It wasn’t the route they’d taken that afternoon as that was in full view of the castle. It was one he discovered couldn’t be seen from any of the windows. He’d donned a simple black long-sleeved shirt and a navy blue plaid cargo shorts.

    He stepped into the clearing, a soft smile gracing his lips when he saw Kaleah already there, her back towards him. Not making a single sound, he crept up behind her and put one hand over her eyes, the other coming around her neck in a choke hold, applying enough pressure to keep her in place but not enough to actually choke her. Bending slightly so that his mouth was right by her ear, he said, “Tell me a joke and I’ll let you go.”
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Fri May 05, 2017 10:30 pm

    She let her mind wander as she sat, watching the moonlight reflecting on the still of the water. It was a crescent, surrounded by a million twinkling stars, and it was only the slight ripples of creatures stirring beneath the surface that broke the illusion that she was staring at the sky. Her mind, however, was among the stars, hundreds of billions of miles away, and she wasn't sure she liked where it was.

    Brandon was a friend. Brandon had always been a friend. A good one, and perhaps a close one she might consider as one of her best ones, but that was all he was. When they'd first started going out on their midnight adventures, Kaleah had been apprehensive. What if they got caught? What if he was just winding her up? But then one night turned into many, and she found herself looking forward to being able to relax as herself.

    When he showed up at her village to support her play, she'd been thrilled -- and some of the other girls had been rather awestuck at the way she so calmly and nonchalantly dealt with the arrival of a Prince (that is to say, the fact she glared at him and told him he was an idiot).

    When she'd gone with him to the palace for his sister's ball, she'd gotten a glimpse of what life was like as royalty, and she'd admired him even more for having grown up in that sort of environment. She had thoroughly enjoyed herself, but that had been about the extent of it.

    When they'd agreed to partner up for the date class, she'd been relieved, glad that she'd be doing it with a friend instead of a stranger. Brandon, she knew, would make it fun. And Brandon, she also knew, wouldn't judge her if she slipped up.

    But then they'd actually gone on the date, and while she had to act all proper and Princessy -- and him all Princey -- there had been something there that Kaleah wasn't quite certain of. An emotion, a stirring of something inside her she couldn't quite fathom, and she didn't like it. It was like a constricting of her heart, so that each beat was felt in delay, and her head filled with a numb buzzing. It was like everything Brandon did or said had been done in slow motion, giving her ample time to pick up on subtle movements and intonations.

    Kaleah had never felt this way about anyone before. Not her family, not her best friends, and certainly not Phil, not even when they'd been dating. But what this feeling was, exactly, she wasn't sure. Or, rather, she had an inkling suspicious but refused to give it the time of day.

    There was simply no possible way she was falling for Brandon. It just couldn't be.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by a movement behind her, and the world went dark as a hand went around her eyes. She relaxed into the one around her neck, already recognising the scent of her best friend in this dratted place (The scent? I recognise Brandon by his smell? she thought, dimly. Then, That's not a good sign.).

    His voice by her ear made her smile slightly. "Alright, I'll play, I suppose." She paused, faking mulling over something. "Well, the funniest thing I can think of at this moment is this: Brandon." She grinned, reaching behind her to find his hands, and then aimed a poke at his side.

    _________________________________________________________
    "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
    "If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman."
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    PostSubject: Re: Courtship 101 (Dual Class) [Braleah]   Tue May 09, 2017 7:36 am

    The day had been interesting to say the least. When the Courtship class had been announced, there was only one girl on his mind. Kaleah. He could not imagine going on a date with anyone else. Of course, as a Prince, he’d had to entertain Princesses during balls. It was even worse when his parents invited some dignitary or other over to the palace. He would have no choice but to spend alone time with whichever daughter the dignitary brought along with him.

    The Courtship class gave him the perfect excuse to go on a date with Kaleah. He didn’t know when or how it happened, but lately, Kaleah had been on his mind more and more. Perhaps it was when he saw her descending the stairs of the grand ballroom, resplendent in the dress he’d picked out for her, and he’d felt something in his heart. Then he’d held her in his arms for the first dance while the rest of the room watched. And she’d felt perfect there. He’d danced with countless Princesses, but none of them ever felt...right.

    Or maybe it was that time when they’d snuck out to the lake, and she’d laughed, the moonlight glinting off her face and her hair a wild mess. He hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her then, feeling that unfamiliar tug at his heart again. And when they finally went to their respective beds, the image remained in his mind’s eye.

    And he could never forget that time when she’d escaped from class to see him by the waterfall after that disastrous meeting. He’d been feeling like dirt and she was there, making him smile again, spouting words of wisdom, and of course, filling his stomach with food. He hadn’t known how to thank her besides the hug, or let her know how much that meant to him, and he didn’t know if he would ever get to tell that to her.

    He knew what it was alright - some of his required reading had romance in them. He just didn’t think it would happen with Kaleah. He’d thought of her like a friend, a close one he could goof off with to survive school. She’d been someone he could tease without worrying about offending her. She’d been someone he could break the rules with. But now? He wasn’t sure anymore.

    He hadn’t wanted to ruin their friendship, whatever camaraderie they had. Talking about his feelings when he was pretty sure she didn’t reciprocate them would just spoil everything. But Courtship 101 was a blessing in disguise; he could go on a date with her without actually going on a date with her. It was one reason why he’d wanted it to be perfect. And it was, even if his cake had failed.

    And now, with the quiet breeze whispering through the trees, Ed Sheeran’s Perfect ringing in his ears, and his fingers over her eyes, he wanted nothing more than to lean that few inches and drop an impulsive kiss on the top of her head. With self-control he didn’t know he had, he refrained, and instead let out a playful grunt at her poke.

    “I’m glad you think so highly of me, milady, and I thank you for the compliment,” he responded, a cheeky grin on his lips as he removed his fingers from her head and settled himself beside her. “I think I’m rather funny too.”

    He was silent for a long time, just enjoying being in Kaleah’s presence, and soaking in the beauty of the night. Here with the woman who’d captured his heart and soul, everything felt peaceful and perfect.

    “So what did you think of the date?” he finally broke the silence, glancing at her for a second then back at the water.

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